DHS Workers Involved In Serenity Deal Case Speak Out
Adrianna Iwasinski, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A Child Welfare Specialist and Supervisor involved in the Serenity Deal case are speaking out against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Randy Lack was a child welfare specialist Level 3 on the case, the highest level you can reach before becoming a supervisor. He has been with DHS for 11 years and worked on the permanency placement of 5-year-old Serenity Deal.
Deal was found dead in her biological father's Northeast Oklahoma City apartment in June. Her father, Sean Brooks, is charged with her murder and was undergoing a trial reunification with Serenity at the time of her death. The girl was under the state's care.
"I spoke with Mr. Brooks on the phone." said Randy Lack. "I was very impressed."
But he says he was in shock when he heard Serenity had been killed and that Brooks was arrested for the crime.
He says Serenity was not afraid of her father and that multiple people were involved in her case that OK'd her going home with her father including DHS, the DA that covers Lincoln and Pottawattamie County, the lawyers representing the families and the judge.
"They all OK'd her going home, there were no questions asked,"said Lack.
Lack was one of four DHS case workers on the Deal case who were later placed on administrative leave while DHS conducted an investigation. He has now received his notice of proposed discharge.
A DHS spokesperson has stated publicly some policies and procedures were not followed by certain workers and that they would be held accountable.
While Lack does admit some policies were not followed, he says none of them would have made a difference in this case.
"I think we have been blacklisted," said Lack. "If DHS policy does not change, this will continue to happen."
Jennifer Shawn is a Child Welfare Specialist level IV which makes her a supervisor. She has been with DHS since 2006 and was on the case from September 2010 to March 31 of 2011.
Her response to Serenity's death?
"I was just sick over it," said Jennifer Shawn. "I literally had to pull the car over and got sick."
She says she would not have changed any of the decisions that she made in this case. She has also received a notice of proposed discharge. She calls it a witch hunt and said DHS is misleading the public and has made them scape goats.
"There were no allegations against the father," said Shawn. "Serenity never told anyone that there was any physical abuse."
Both Lack and Shawn do plan to fight the termination.